by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 1st 2011 1:12pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 27th 2011 9:31am
from the how-nice dept
“Based on the law, the use of VPNs or other antifiltering software is forbidden and considered a crime,”Amusingly, the reasoning given is that VPNs are part of a "soft war" from Western countries, and blocking them is a way to "confront" such Western aggression.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 29th 2011 2:05am
Canadian Copyright Reform Authors Know The Law Outlaws Circumvention Even If No Infringement... But Don't Seem To Care
from the have-they-learned-nothing dept
Of course, as Michael Geist has discovered, by obtaining last year's clause-by-clause document that explains the bill to Canadian Ministers, that those behind the bill seem to recognize that it goes way beyond copyright law in the arena of digital locks. That is, it's against the law to circumvent digital locks even for non-infringing works and the common defenses against infringement are not allowed for the digital locks/anti-circumvention rules. This is not unlike the US, but it's still quite troubling. Remember, this is from the Canadian government itself:
The Bill introduces new causes of action (such as those relating to TPMs and RMIs) that could be used in civil lawsuits regardless of whether or not there has been an infringement of copyright.As Geist notes, this might make the bill unconstitutional:
Generally, an owner of copyright in a work or other subject matter for which this prohibition has been contrevened has the same remedies as if this were an infringement of copyright (proposed s.41(2)). However, a contravention of this prohibition is not an infringement of copyright and the efences to infringement of copyright are not defences to these prohibitions.
The constitution grants jurisdiction over copyright to the federal government, but jurisdiction over property rights is a provincial matter. Digital lock legislation that is consistent with existing copyright law - ie. one that factors in existing exceptions - is more clearly a matter of copyright. The C-32 provisions are arguably far more about property rights since the provisions may be contained in the Copyright Act, but they are focused primarily on the rights associated with personal property and expressly exclude copyright defences.What amazes me is that this remains such a big issue. I can't believe anyone can credibly claim that it makes sense to block all circumvention of digital locks even in the cases of non-infringement. I know we have some supporters of such laws who read this site, and I'd like to see an honest explanation for why an anti-circumvention provision cannot include a clear exception for cases of non-infringement, and why standard defenses to copyright infringement can't apply to breaking digital locks?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 28th 2011 5:33am
from the it-certainly-might... dept
Of course, now that the paywalls been out for a while, people are finding even more ways to get around the paywall, including merely removing the string at the end of the URL. This is so simple, that someone made a 27-second video showing people how to "hack" the NY Times paywall:
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 17th 2011 7:26am
from the wtf? dept
In 2006, New Jersey Monthly magazine hired photographer Peter Murphy to shoot WKXW hosts Craig Carton and Ray Rossi for a "Best of New Jersey" issue naming the pair as "best shock jocks" in the state. The two radio hosts were photographed standing, apparently nude, behind a WKXW sign.There are a variety of legal issues raised in the case (including a defamation claim for how the DJs reacted after Murphy complained), but the interesting one is that Murphy claimed that simply removing the credit line on the photo is an entirely separate DMCA violation, whether or not the use of the photo infringes itself, because it messed with the "copyright management information." The radio station and the DJs reasonably argue that this is preposterous, and the lower court agreed, granting summary judgment. However, the appeals court feels differently, and thinks it's an issue worth exploring, and sends it back to the district court to explore.
Later, after the magazine had come out, the WKXW website took a scanned copy of the photograph and put it on its website, inviting its fans to take the image, manipulate it, and submit the results. The station stripped away NJM's caption and Murphy's photo credit and never got permission to use the copyrighted photograph.
The court goes through what feels like a tortured reading of the DMCA to come to this conclusion, and determines that while this result may not be "desirable, it is not absurd." Really? It seems pretty absurd that you can violate a separate part of copyright law just by removing a credit. If this actually is ruled reasonable in court, it could mean that even in cases of fair use, if you remove the credit, you could still end up violating the DMCA. That doesn't make much sense.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 25th 2010 10:37am
from the copyright-law-at-work dept
First, let's take a step back, and realize just how ridiculous this situation is. If you buy a piece of electronic equipment, should you ever deserve jailtime for then modifying it? With most things you buy, you have every right to then make changes to it. Yet, when it comes to gaming consoles, suddenly that can get you jailtime. The culprit? Of course, it's the ever-present DMCA, and its anti-circumvention clause, which lets any device maker put in some "technological protection measures," and suddenly it's illegal to modify what you thought you legally owned.
Now, supporters of the DMCA will note that every few years we have the lovely "exceptions" process, whereby the Librarian of Congress gets to (somewhat arbitrarily) choose what things won't get covered by the anti-circumvention clause. Just a few months ago, for example, it was deemed "ok" to jailbreak your mobile phone. So, here's the conundrum: it's perfectly legal to jailbreak your iPhone, but you can get thrown in jail for jailbreaking your Xbox. Explain that.
Huang wants to testify on behalf of Matthew Crippen, who would jailbreak Xboxes. Huang planned to show the jury just how easy it was to mod an Xbox. While he doesn't say so, my assumption is that the idea is to show that, and then suggest that the anti-circumvention provision does not apply because it shows that the Xbox's technological protection measures are not "effective," and the anti-circumvention provisions are only designed to apply to "a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." Similar arguments have actually worked in Europe, though I'm not sure if they'll work here.
Either way, I'm guessing the court won't allow Huang to testify for a variety of legal reasons, but even if he doesn't, it would be nice if the court and anyone else could explain why jailbreaking an iPhone is fine while jailbreaking an Xbox gets you jailtime.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 27th 2010 11:51am
from the the-flipside dept
Subscription based services that offer DRMprotected streaming video where the provider has only made available players for a limited number of platforms, effectively creating an access control that requires a specific operating system version and/or set of hardware to view purchased material; and Motion pictures protected by antiaccess measures, such that access to the motion picture content requires use of a certain platform.Specifically, this involved someone who asked for an exemption to, say, watch Netflix streaming, with a legit Netflix member account, on a non-approved platform, such as Linux. This was lumped in with another proposal to not just watch streaming content on Linux, but DVDs on Linux, where there might not be a CSS-licensed video player. Such requests have been tried in the past, and basically, the rulemaking effort here said "been there, rejected that," followed up with a "if you want to view the content, buy a "reasonably priced alternative" technology platform. How nice of them.
Lawfully purchased sound recordings, audiovisual works, and software programs distributed commercially in digital format by online music and media stores and protected by technological measures that depend on the continued availability of authenticating servers, when such authenticating servers cease functioning because the store fails or for other reasons; andThis seems like it should be a no-brainer for exemption. There are so many stories of various online music stores that had DRM that required "phoning home." These services died, and eventually the DRM servers were turned off leaving consumers blocked from accessing music they had legally purchased.
Lawfully purchased sound recordings, audiovisual works, and software programs distributed commercially in digital format by online music and media stores and protected by technological measures that depend on the continued availability of authenticating servers, prior to the failure of the servers for technologists and researchers studying and documenting how the authenticating servers that effectuate the technological measures function.
But, no... The Copyright Office shot that one down by saying that, Chris Soghoian, who made this request, failed to show "that the prohibition on circumvention of access controls either has produced, or is likely to produce, any adverse effects on noninfringing uses of the proposed class of works." Basically, the Copyright Office notes that, so far, in the cases where such servers have been shut down, the companies offered "full refunds" to buyers, so no harm, no foul. Of course, it brushes over the fact that it took enormous consumer backlash to force this response. So, because a bunch of complaining consumers get companies to pay up if they want to turn off their DRM servers, no circumvention should be allowed? That seems backwards.
Software and information recorded, produced, stored, manipulated or delivered by the software, that a forensic investigator seeks to copy, activate, or reverse engineer in order to obtain evidence in a court proceeding.This, again, seems like a reasonable request. Forensic investigators may need to access and review data or software that is locked down with DRM or other technical protection methods. Making it infringement just to get around those protection measures, even for legal forensic investigations doesn't make much sense. But, of course, to the Copyright Office it's perfectly reasonable. Basically, the Copyright Office says "well, there's no evidence that this has ever been a problem, so why worry?"
Audiovisual works delivered by digital television (DTV) transmission intended for free, overtheair reception by anyone, which are marked with a broadcast flag indicator that prevents, restricts, or inhibits the ability of recipients to access the work at a time of the recipient’s choosing and subsequent to the time of transmission, or using a machine owned by the recipient but which is not the same machine that originally acquired the transmission.Here, again, the Copyright Office basically says, "hey, there's no broadcast flag mandate, so why worry?" It claims that it's "highly speculative" as to whether or not broadcasters and copyright holders would look to use broadcast flags to restrict content. Of course, this ignores that various attempts have been used to do that, and now with things like Selectable Output Control, it's likely to happen again.
Audiovisual works embedded in a physical medium (such as Bluray discs) which are marked for downconversion or downresolutioning (such as by the presence of an Image Constraint Token ICT) when the work is to be conveyed through any of a playback machine’s existing audio or visual output connectors, and therefore restricts the literal quantity of the embedded work available to the user (measured by visual resolution, temporal resolution, and color fidelity).Again, the Copyright Office is quick to recommend against including this, noting that there's no clear adverse impact on users or a clear "noninfringing use."
As mentioned in the original post, the Copyright Office also wanted to reject allowing ebooks to be read aloud for the blind, but the Librarian of Congress overruled the Copyright Office on that one point.
And, there you go. Many of the rejections were basically over situations where the Copyright Office said there was no real evidence of an actual problem, so nothing to worry about. Still, just the fact that many of these situations had to be proposed and were rejected shows how ridiculous copyright law is today. The fact that we have to go begging to the Copyright Office every three years for simple exemptions like this, which can (and often are) rejected, is not how modern society should work. Technology is changing how people can and do interact with content. This whole process (even the fact that it only happens every three years) has the whole thing backwards. We shouldn't have to ask for permission to use technology to do what it allows.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 27th 2010 6:29am
Canada More Or Less Admits Its Copyright Reform Plan Is Driven By US, Following DMCA Exemption Rulings
from the why-wait-until-now? dept
While I'm glad that Canadian politicians may be reconsidering their awful digital locks provision, it seems odd that it would take a US rulemaking for them to do so. After all, one of the key talking points by Canadian politicians is that this is a "made in Canada" approach to copyright, rather than being driven by the US. So, why would a US rulemaking matter? While it's good that this rulemaking is in a good direction, the fact that Canada didn't think to include similar exemptions in its copyright law until this rulemaking is more or less a confession that the copyright law was based on US rules and US interests, rather than Canadian interests.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 26th 2010 1:08pm
from the didn't-expect-this dept
Included in the rulemaking were exemptions that say jailbreaking smartphones is legal, saying:
"When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses."Separately, it approved getting around DRM on DVDs for use in non-commercial or educational video works. This is a blow to Hollywood, which in the past has tried to suggest that if educational institution want to use a fair use clip from a video, they should just set up a video camera on a tripod pointed at a TV screen playing the DVD. That said, the Copyright Office made it clear that these uses are very limited, and must be for purposes of "criticism or comment," and the maker of the new work must show that the circumvention is "necessary" to make the video work, saying "where alternatives to circumvention can be used to achieve the noninfringing purpose, such noncircumventing alternatives should be used." That seems extremely limiting, since you can almost always claim that some sort of alternative could be used.
The EFF also notes that the Copyright Office renewed one good exemption from a previous rulemaking, while clarifying what it covered, where it noted that unlocking a mobile phone to take it to another network is not violating the DMCA.
There were some additional classes approved, including video game DRM, in certain cases, where the DRM is being broken for the sake of security testing. They also approved getting around DRM in the form of computer dongles when those dongles are considered "obsolete," defined as "no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace." This one is also basically an expansion of an earlier ruling. The final one is also more or less a repeat of earlier rulemakings, concerning allowing ebooks to be read aloud for the blind -- even though the Copyright Office recommended against it, the Librarian of Congress included it anyway.
Separately, it is notable what was requested and rejected, but we'll do a separate post on that later.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 23rd 2010 11:21am
Good News: Violating Terms Of Service Is Not Hacking; Bad News: Circumventing Weak Tech Blocks Might Be
from the some-good,-some-bad dept
But it's not all good news. In the same ruling, the court did say that Power.com (an aggregator of data from various social networks) still may have violated computer hacking laws by changing its IP address. That's because Facebook had blocked Power.com's old IP address to try to block the site from accessing user account data. As the EFF explains:
In other words, it may be a crime to circumvent technological barriers imposed by a website, even if those measures are taken only to enforce the terms of service through code. There's nothing inherently wrong or unlawful about avoiding IP address blocking, and there are valid reasons why someone might choose to do so, including to sidestep anticompetitive behavior by other Internet services. As long as an end user is authorized to access a computer and the way she chooses doesn't cause harm, she should be able to access the computer any way she likes without committing a crime.Of course, given the way the DMCA handles circumvention for copyright (it's not legal even if for legal uses), perhaps there's some precedent for this kind of ridiculous, totally counter-intuitive outcome.